Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Monday, 30 March 2009
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Friday, 27 March 2009
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Nobody took much notice after all it was not unusual to see groups of men meet up and hang around outside the bank.
Nor did it cause the bank cashier, Greenup Bird or his son, the teller, William much concern when, at 2 pm that day, two men entered the bank. One paused by the stove to warm his hands while the other approached William Bird with the request that he change up a $10 dollar bill.
So began what was to become the biggest bank robbery in the annals of the west.
What made this robbery different from any other was that it was the first bank robbery to be carried out in broad daylight.
Both the vault and the tills were cleaned out though the amount taken varies to different accounts. James Love, the bank president, claimed that only $50,000 in cash, gold and bonds were taken whereas contempory accounts put the figure as high as $75,000. The only consistent figure is that part of the haul amounted to between $40 -$45,000 in bearer bonds.
The robbery would have gone unnoticed had the robbers thought to have locked the vault where they had imprisoned both Greenup Bird and his son. The Birds escaped to raise the alarm and that was when the shooting started - fire was exchanged between robbers and citizens during which 19 year old William Jewell College student, George Wymore, was killed. His killing was laid at the robbers feet.
James Love posted a reward of $5000 for the capture of the robbers and return of the money - it was never claimed.
So who were the robbers?
Whoever robbed the Clay County Savings Association Bank knew the two Birds for when locking them up one of the robbers was heard to say: "All Birds should be caged." And, I rather imagine that Greenup Bird was well aware of who was pointing a gun at him.
Also of note is that at the outbreak of the American Civil War the State of Missouri declared for the Union while a vast majority of the people backed the Confederacy. Most of the inhabitants of Clay County alone were from Tennessee and Virginia and had brought their slaves with them and had hemp and tobacco plantations.
The Clay County Savings Association Bank was a pro-Union bank - therefore, a prime target for returning disgrunted Confederate soldiers some of whom would have not been happy with the state of their farms and greedy banks calling in loans etc.
Months later suggestions of names were put forward suggesting people who had ridden with Frank and Jesse James who lived 10 miles to the north at Kearney, Missouri. Feasible as the robbers rode north out of Liberty followed by a posse who lost the trail when a blizzard struck wiping out the trail.
The reward flyer put out by James Love states that the gang operated out of Sibley in Jackson County - which is to the south of Clay County.
One problem that I see with the James boys being involved is that at the time of the robbery Jesse was at home recovering from a chest wound.
Nor do any accounts of the James-Younger gang reveal that they were responsible for the first daylight bank robbery - then again, they didn't deny it.
Of one thing that is certain is that the robbery was carried out by people who were local to Liberty or residents of Clay County.
After reading many accounts of this robbery there are two things that stand out.
The first is that one of the robbers mentioned the Birds by name and I suspect that the elder Bird knew who at least one of the robbers was. Also, accounts say that when the Birds were placed in the vault the robbers forgot to lock the door. I do not think that the robbers forgot - they never intended to lock the door. This was not an oversight but carried out by someone who knew that it might be some time before they were discovered and released - by which time the Birds could have suffocated and died.
I believe that it was expected that the Birds would be too scared to try the door and thus give the robbers the chance to escape undetected.
The second thing that strikes me is the matter of the bearer bonds. There is no paper trail - though it was just about two and a half years after the robbery that the last bond was cashed.
To my mind this was a robbery that was planned down to the last detail and may have been a one off.
One other thought that occurs is that many of the investors were also Union supporters who were hit by the robbery. The bank trading was suspended and they were paid out at 60 cents to the dollar - damaging enough to put some people out of business.
Of course, all those involved in the events of that one day in Liberty are long dead and the truth may never be known. The identity of those who committed the first and largest daylight bank robbery will remain a mystery.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
People become victims of circumstances that are created by others - yet those same victims had nothing to do with the creation of those circumstances. I spent time in the legal profession helping people against injustice but learned - the hard way - that the law is its own worst enemy because it can uphold injustice.
Take the case of a paedophile who sexually abuses an 11 year old girl. He gets caught - well, it was easier to surrender to the police rather than try and escape past the girl's father - goes to court where he pleads guilty and says he's sorry for what he had done but the girl did ask him to do what he did. So he gets a two year sentence - suspended. He is sentenced the same day as his first child is born. Within weeks that child will be in a hospital bed with broken ankles. The paedophile puts all the blame on his wife. He says that she is suffering from post natal depression but under police investigation he buckles and admits to his crime. Now, you would think that he would go to prison this time - once more he pleads guilty in court and says how sorry he is. Another two year sentence and again it is suspended. This is a man who has abused two children but committed two different crimes - one of sexual abuse and one of physical abuse - had they been the same offence then he would have gone to prison.
However, Social Services - who are a law unto themselves - decided that it was the mother who was the guilty party. In their eyes the abuser was just taking the blame for what she had done.
Let's face it everybody but Social Services knew who the abuser was and the child's grandparents were going to make sure that that their grandchild - their first grandchild - was going to be safe. While they were on the way events took a strange twist. The mother mentioned that her parents were on their way and the Social Worker went straight into action. They slapped an Interim Care Order on the child so that a) he could not be removed and b) had the child removed into a Care Home before the mother reached the hospital.
An interesting turn of events taking into consideration that the very first paragraph of the Act is that Social Services must do all in their power to keep families together and that if another family member is willing to take the responsibility of that child then that has to be the first priority.
Sorry, that part of the Act does not apply to Social Services - their only concern starts from the first mention that they have to look at 'the interests of the child'.
To cut a long story short - after a year or so the grandparents got their wish and took responsibility of their grandchild - they even signed a contract to that effect. Of course, during that time a different social worker from another area took over the case. Also, there was a proviso for the placement of the mother and her - now - two children in a mother and baby unit for assessment. There were no places available. The new social worker saw no need for this as the children were thriving with the grandparents.
The other team of Social Workers were stymied - for as long as the child was with the granparents they could not touch him. So they put pressure on the other team to find a placement and they had no choice but to do what they were told. Within a week of being placed in a Mother and Baby unit - the child was on his way back to a Care Home and then to foster parents.
The contract that the grandparents signed? It never happened. If it had it would have been on the file - wouldn't it?
The other child? Well, that child was 'removed' from its mother and placed with the grandparents and he grew up as their 'son'. The mother was totally devastated by all these events and went off the rails.
Still, they continued to fight for justice and opposed the adoption proceedings. The Judge ordered another hearing in his prescence but Social Services wrote to the grandparents solicitors to say that if the grandparents did not withdraw then the child's adoptive family would pull out of the adoption and that the grandparents would be responsible for the child being shunted from home to home.
They also brought the final hearing foraward and presented their case to a different judge and the child's fate was sealed.
The child in this story was three and a half years old by the time the Adoption order was granted.
Still the grandparents went away believing in that adage that if you love someone let them go and if they are yours then they will return to you.
When a child is adopted they not allowed anything that will identify any other relatives.
Many adopted children have difficulty in tracing their natural families. The Freedom Of Information Act does not apply to Social Services (it does but it is not what they tell you) so you cannot trace your roots through them.
I wrote some books because I just enjoy the creative process - just did not know how important they would become in the future.
I started a blog - just seemed a good idea at the time but I get a lot of enjoyment out of it - again I did not know how important that would be.
For those who read the comments on the last post - maybe, you understand how important the last two sentences are.
You see when my eldest grandson was adopted - he was given two of the books that I had written. In order to find his family, seventeen years later, he wrote to my publishers which Robert Hale passed to me this morning. He also looked up Jack Giles on the net and found 'Broken Trails' and left a comment for me - and we're all riding a very emotional rollercoaster at the moment.
He is one of the lucky ones - he and his brother are getting to know each other.
Many do not have that kind of luck - and many should not have been in that position in the first place but for as long as there are contradictory laws and no proper regulation of Social Services children will continue to be lost in the system and some of them will die.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
It is the first time that I have written anything under my own name - and I don't intend it to be my last either.
Just sit back and enjoy the idyllic lifestyle.
Friday, 20 March 2009
Fortunately, the doctor told me, I just suffered a 'system breakdown'. As a result I have to start putting things into some kind of order - just not try to do everything at once. From now on it has to be blogging days, writing days, research days and rest days in between.
But I have a good 'team' around me and blog entries are planned ahead of time - with the exception of this one and the previous post (no one in their right mind would have planned that one) - it is just a matter of piecing all the notes together and one or other of the kids will do the posting.
This will leave me free to finish a short story and then I can work out a routine from there.
See you all out there on the trail sometime.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Alan C Porter
A Black Horse Western
Published - 31st March 2009
Caleb Jones rode in to Desert Bluffs to make peace with his daughter whom he had not seen in twenty years but Aguilar's raiders, from across the Mexican border, robbed him of that chance, killing her and taking his granddaughters. It was down to Caleb to get them back whatever the cost, so he rode with guns blazing in an explosive rescue mission into Mexico that seemed doomed from the start. But Caleb was not a man to accept defeat lying down and when his guns spoke men listened or died.
Since 1991 with the publication of 'WEST OF THE PECOS' Alan C Porter, from the UK's west country, has written about twenty one Black Horse Western novels.
It would be easy to say that he wrote action packed page turning books. But.......
"The conestoga moved through the night hauled by a team of six. A light wind caused the canvas to billow and slap about its curved, wooden ribs. Shadows, silent and ghost-like flitted over the land as wind driven clouds raced across the mottled face of the moon."
So reads the opening lines of THE GOLD HUNTERS (1992) as a reinforced conestoga laden with a million dollars is seconds away from being held up and the 'inside man' killed. Wagon, horses and gold all disappear and it is down to Treasury Agents Wes Hardiman and Ben Travis to reclaim the gold.
There is a rapport between Hardiman and Travis that like many a Porter character makes them solid and believable. Also, his descriptive passages have that quality that makes the reader 'see' and 'hear' what he is writing about.
In some of his books, like 'THE GATES OF HELL' and 'THE CAT WAGON' he includes what is termed 'adult content' but these are led up to in a natural way that is reminiscent of the novels of the Sixties but descriptive enough in the modern sense without being sensational.
As with other western writers that I have written about Alan C Porter has impressed me and I'm looking forward to reading 'THE GUNS OF CALEB JONES'. This book can be pre-ordered through the usual outlets.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Back in the 1600s it was home to a tribe of native American indians until the arrival of a group of settelers. They lived in harmony until an epidemic decimated both populations. In the 1860s a prison was built here to house prisoners of war taken during the American Civil War. After the war it became a penetentiary.
In the 1880s the area was struck by another epidemic that led to the building of the Beechwood hospital across the lake in the suburb of South Vale.
Visitors to Silent Hill can hunt in the forested hills or fish from the banks of the lake. It is by the lake that can be found the Lakeside Amusement Park, The Lakeview Hotel and the historic lighthouse.
In Old Silent Hill can be found the Midwich Elementary School on Midwich Street while on the corner of Bachman Road and Bloch Street is the site of the town's only church. Across the bridge is the commercial area where both the police station and post office are located along Crichton Street. Turn left at the post office in to Koontz Street to where the Archamellia General Hospital is situated.
It was a pleasant little town - until the The Order, a cult dedicated to raising the 'Older Gods', took over the town.
Now Silent Hill is a ghost town shrouded in fog.
The story is encased within four computer console games (yes-I know that there are six titles and I will mention the other two later).
The first story (1999) concerns recently widowed Harry Mason and his seven year old adopted daughter Cheryl. Each year they have spent their vacation at the Silent Hill resort and Harry sees no point in not spending this vacation there. As they are driving along the road Harry swerves to avoid a shadowy figure. He crashes the car and is knocked unconcious. When he wakes up he finds that Cheryl is missing. As Harry searches for his missing daughter he discovers more about Cheryl's early life and her connection to Silent Hill.
The second story (or game -2001) has the protagonist, James Sutherland, receiving a letter from his dead wife, Mary, saying that she is waiting for him at their 'special place' in Silent Hill.
The third instalment (2003) begins in a mall in South Ashfield where 17 year old Heather Morris is having a nightmare. When she wakes up she finds herself persued by a Chandler/Spillane style private investigator. He has been hired to bring her back to Silent Hill though he does not know why. The story line here links quite neatly to story one.
Travis Grady in the fourth story (2007) is a truck driver who happens upon a burning house. He stops and rescues a child who's life he saves. But when he wakes up in hospital no one knows about the little girl - this game is called: Silent Hill:Origins and is the prequal to the first game and the two link together.
The other two games are the sixth instalment (2009) called Homecoming which is set in the neighbouring town of Shepherd's Glen and I cannot comment as I am only a quarter through.
The other is Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004) which has not connection apart from the 'bad guy' being an undead serial killer mentioned in Silent Hill 2. It is repetitive and I doubt if the game would have 'sold' without the addition of the Silent Hill 'name'.
Silent Hill is what is known as a survival horror game - a term that was coined with the arrival of 'Resident Evil'. One reviewer wrote of the first Silent Hill "Konami's first entry into the horror genre - while not quite up to the mark of Capcom's Resident Evil 2 - is a great beginning."
In my view, he is wrong for Silent Hill is superior.
First, the game has a spooky atmosphere that has a tense soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka and, unlike other games, Silent Hill with its nods towards H.P.Lovecraft and Stephen King makes the player think. It is not necessary to kill every 'nasty' that the player comes across - though there are times when you have no choice.
The are puzzles and there are clues to be pieced together and there are four or five endings - but to reach that end it is all down to the decisions that the player makes.
The town's history at the top of the page is gleaned from the games and you will not read this in the game booklet - you work it out for yourself.
The disadvantage with these games is that the first story came out on the Sony Playstation while numbers two, three and Origins came out on Playstation 2. As it happens games that originated on the original Playstation can be played on Playstation 2 but the first game is hard to come by which makes it difficult for anyone wanting to continue on from Silent Hill:Origins - in its own way it makes the story hard to comprehend.
With consoles evolving to the Playstation 3 and XBox360 it seems to me that a digitally enhanced omnibus edition of the four linked games should be issued to players new to this story.
The downside is a fear that this is a series that could go on forever and just develop into a clone of itself. It is the feeling that I get from the latest game and I would prefer to see a title like Silent Hill:Resolution whereby the protagonist destroys the Order and Silent Hill returns to normal. The team at Konami have suceeded in bringing an innotive game style into being and should not do Silent Hill to death as the four main games have their place in the horror genre.
For Silent Hill is the horror comic and the horror story brought to life. Live it. Breathe it. This is the horror movie that you control.
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
a Black Horse Western
Due for publication - July 2009
When Clay Overman was shot at he suspected the worst for he had no idea who wanted him dead. Then the stream that watered the Bar O ranch ran dry and that was when his troubles really began. Soon he was fighting several scheming men who were intent on robbing him and his father of their ranch and their lives. He fought for what was his in a lawless land where everyone with possessions had to fight to keep what they owned. When the shooting started it seemed as though it would never stop and Clay's life was on the line until the very last shot desoite the fact that he was ready for trouble.
Corba Sunman was a writer that I was aware of for I had seen his books turn up on Ebay from time to time and noticed that they attracted a flurry of bidders. Fortunately, for me, a block of four books came up. Three of the books were by writers that I collected and one, 'Marshall Law' by Corba Sunman. Maybe everyone else had this book because I was the only bidder on this lot.
'Marshall Law' published by Robert Hale's Black Horse Western brand in 2006 concerned Deputy Marshall Jed Law's arrival in Buffalo Creek to deal with an outbreak of rustling that was pulling two ranchers towards a range war. From the start this book turned out to be a page turning action packed ride.
Corba Sunman has written more than twenty books since his debut Black Horse Western 'Range Grab' in 1996. His hero here is a Texas Ranger, Brad Devlone, who works undercover with his badge tucked behind his belt. Again this is an action packed novel that keeps the reader guessing but suspecting who the guilty parties are.
Corba Sunman is another Black Horse Western writer who attracts silly money for his books on Amazon and that goes a long way to explain why this British writer gains a lot of attention when his books turn up on Ebay.
I am sure that Corba Sunman will keep us readers entertained for some time to come.
Monday, 2 March 2009
I want to say thank you to everyone who read what I had to say. And the same to those who made a comment.
My day was good. Some of my class showed an interest in the book.
I did find another boy who read cowboy books. He didn't say anything because he wasn't sure what people would say.
I might do this again. Blogging I mean.